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Thursday, Dec 07, 2017

  

Get Homefront for Free

Humble Store is offering Homefront for free to anyone who picks up the insurgent shooter from them over the next two days. Here's a refresher:

The year is 2027. The world as we know it is unraveling after fifteen years of economic meltdown and widespread global conflict over dwindling natural resources.

A once proud America has fallen, her infrastructure shattered and military in disarray. Crippled by a devastating EMP strike, the USA is powerless to resist the ever expanding occupation of a savage, nuclear armed Greater Korean Republic.

Abandoned by her former allies, the United States is a bleak landscape of walled towns and abandoned suburbs. This is a police state where high school stadiums have become detention centers, and shopping malls shelter armored attack vehicles. A once-free people are now prisoners… or collaborators… or revolutionaries.

Join the Resistance, stand united and fight for freedom against an overwhelming military force in Homefront’s gripping single player campaign penned by John Milius (Apocalypse Now, Red Dawn). Stand alongside a cast of memorable characters as an emotional plot unfolds in this terrifyingly plausible near-future world. Experience visceral, cinematic first-person shooter action as you fight your way across Occupied USA using guerrilla tactics, and commandeer military vehicles and advanced drone technology to defeat the enemy.

Multiplayer brings epic warfare to the online arena as infantry, tanks, attack helicopters and combat drones battle across huge, open battlefields. A rich feature set offering layers of tactical depth combined with a game-changing innovation in the multiplayer space will set a new benchmark in online warfare.

X-Series and The Division Free Weekends

Valve announces two different free-to-play game promotions running this weekend. Everyone with a Steam account can play any game in the X Franchise until Sunday afternoon, and the entire space game series is currently on sale for up to 80% off. They also announce the promised free weekend for Tom Clancy's The Division is free for the same period, and that game is also on sale for 70% off.

Ubisoft Delays Far Cry 5, The Crew 2, and a Third Game

A post on UbiBlog indicates neither Far Cry 5 nor The Crew 2 will come out on time. The next Far Cry game was expected on February 27th, but is now due exactly a month later on March 27th. They urge those interested in the next installment in the shooter series to return tomorrow for a look at the game: "Tune in to the Ubiblog tomorrow, December 8th at 10pm PST to get the newest look at Far Cry 5." Meanwhile, The Crew 2 was planned for release on March 16th, but is now due "in the first half of our next fiscal year," so they are going from a precise date to a six month Window that requires a decoder ring. Their fiscal year ends on March 31st, so this indicates The Crew 2 is now due between April 1 and September 30 2018. And while they are on a roll, they also offer this press release covering those two games and adding word that a third "franchise" game that they are yet to announce is going to miss a release window they likewise never announced. Word is, "In addition, one of the three unannounced franchise games initially planned for release in Fiscal 2018-19 now will be released in Fiscal 2019-20." Here's word:

Today, Ubisoft announced it is investing more time in the development of three upcoming games. Far Cry® 5 is now slated for release on March 27, 2018 (instead of February 27, 2018) and The Crew® 2 will come out in the first half of Fiscal 2018-19 (rather than on March 16, 2018). In addition, one of the three unannounced franchise games initially planned for release in Fiscal 2018-19 now will be released in Fiscal 2019-20.

Christine Burgess-Quémard, Ubisoft’s Worldwide Studios Executive Director, said, "This decision is in line with our strategic vision of developing even more engaging and higher quality experiences for gamers. Taking more time with Assassin’s Creed Origins enabled our talented development team to fully express their creative vision. As expected, this had a very positive impact on the game’s quality and largely participated to its commercial success. Taking a similar approach, we have decided to invest additional development time in three upcoming games."

New Tomb Raider Tease

A tweet from Tomb Raider shares the news that a new Tomb Raider game is coming, saying "our journey together will begin with a major event in 2018." There also appears to be a simple coded message in the tweet, which seems to be a nod to the rumor that the next Lara Croft game will be titled Shadow of the Tomb Raider (thanks NerdBite via MP1ST). You'll notice the first letter in each sentence in the message spell out the word shadow:

Square Enix is excited to share some big news with you next year. Honestly, we wish we could share it with you right now, but we're taking a new approach this time.

A new Tomb Raider game is coming.

Driven by our goal of putting our fans first, we want you to know that it won't be very long between the official reveal and when you can play.

Our journey together will begin with a major event in 2018. We simply can't wait to take you on Lara Croft's defining adventure.

Fade to Silence Revealed; Early Access Next Week

A Steam page is now up for Fade to Silence, a survival game from Black Forest Games and THQ Nordic set to hit early access on December 14th (thanks Polygon). Here's a chunk of the description:

As the player you take the role of Ash, a natural but tormented leader. In that role you explore a post-apocalyptic, frozen wasteland to gather the resources necessary to establish a refuge for survival. With dwindling resources, simple tasks like upgrading equipment and collecting materials quickly require an expedition to scavenge the necessary items. In the search for survival materials, players must navigate a vast territory, in which they will encounter Eldritch monsters and an even greater foe: the unrelenting winter. While freezing temperatures constantly take their toll on the player Ash, the deadliest event is that of a blizzard. If caught by surprise, it takes every ounce of skill, determination and luck to survive.

In order to survive and overcome all challenges, the player needs to attract followers, bringing them into thei refuge. Each individual skillset and character traits grants access to higher tier resources and gear. Without such advances, the player character can scavenge only the barest necessities, crafting makeshift tools and weapons.

Star Wars Battlefront II Microtransactions May Not Return

Ars Technica reports on remarks made by Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen this week at a NASDAQ investor conference indicating microtransactions may not necessarily return to Star Wars Battlefront II. "Over time we'll address how we will want to bring the [microtransactions] either into the game or not and what form we will decide to bring it into," is the exact quote they report. The company took heat over pay-to-win elements of the game's real-money transactions, and eventually suspended them, but generally indicated they were planning on adding them back after working out the kinks, and this is the first real admission that their return was in doubt. Here are the other comments on the subject they quote:

"Clearly we are very focused on listening to the consumer and understanding what the consumer wants and that's evolving constantly," Jorgensen said. "But we're working on improving the progression system. We turned the [microtransactions] off as an opportunity to work on the progression system inside the game. We're continuing to update that...

"It's been a great learning experience for us," he continued. "We consider ourselves a learning organization, and if we're not learning we're failing in some way."

Devil May Cry HD Collection in March

CapCom Unity announces a Devil May Cry HD Collection is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on March 13, 2018. They offer a retrospective on the DMC trilogy, introduced thusly:

Since his debut back in 2001, Dante swiftly became a gaming icon, representing fun and challenging combat coated in a layer of stylish moves and crazy acrobatics that make you look like an absolute badass. We’re talking juggling enemies in the air with handgun bullets and even riding them around like skateboards. It’s that stylish potential that has drawn in and captivated fans worldwide; after all, who doesn’t like looking super cool?

So if you’re part of the group of people that didn’t raise their hands just now, we have just the collection for you, and the perfect jumping on point to get to know this irreverent character that has since appeared in various fighting games, puzzle games, RPGs and even had his own animated series. Featuring three games, silky smooth 60fps gameplay, and a wide variety of enemies, weapons and styles to experiment with, Devil May Cry HD Collection is the perfect compilation for those looking to get their stylish combat fix.

Hearthstone: Kobolds & Catacombs Released

Blizzard announces that the Kobolds & Catacombs expansion is now available in Hearthstone, and that new card packs are now available for purchase. They also promise a free Legendary Weapon card and three free Kobolds & Catacombs card packs to all players. Here's the previously released Kobolds & Catacombs trailer, and here's a video where Dave "Fargo" Kosak discusses the game's new solo Roguelike Dungeon Runs. Here's more on that:

Into the Dungeons!
In Kobolds & Catacombs, take on the role of a dungeon delving hero! The Dungeon Run is a new incredibly fun, single-player “rogue-like” mode where you’ll face challenging encounters and gather loot to build a crazy powerful deck. It's also completely FREE and everything you need is provided – no collection required!

If you manage to complete a full Dungeon Run with each of the nine Classes—which is no easy feat!—you’ll add the Candle King card back to your collection.

Weapons of Legend
Legendary adventures call for Legendary Weapons! From mystical blades crackling with eldritch power to staves bursting with forbidden arcane knowledge, mighty magical weapons are the calling cards of great heroes.

Continue here to read the full story.

Steam Giveaways During Tonight's Game Awards

Valve announces they are giving away piles of games to those who view the show on Steam tonight:

Watch The Game Awards 2017 live on Steam! The stream begins Dec 7th at 5:30pm PST.

In addition to the show, there are a number of nominated titles on sale right now until Dec 9th at 10am PST. Also, to celebrate The Game Awards 2017, we will randomly drop 150 free copies of nominated titles every 15 minutes during the show. Click here for details on how to participate.

Beyond Good and Evil 2 Videos

UbiBlog now offers two new videos from Beyond Good and Evil 2, a First Ship and Crew Update and a Space Monkey Report #1 Live Stream, which is no longer live, but is preserved for posterity. Here's the accompanying text:

The Beyond Good & Evil 2 development team is hard at work bringing System 3 to life. Since their dramatic debut at E3 2017, the team has more than doubled in size and has begun digging in deeper into the mechanics and story of the game. In the video below, you’ll get a glimpse a ship designs ranging from puttering tuk-tuks to towering motherships, see hybrid character models that blend human and animal into entirely new beings, and hear about how your crew will be one of the driving forces of your adventure.

But the team in Montpellier won’t be the only ones bringing their creativity to Beyond Good & Evil 2. Through the Space Monkey Program, the team is welcoming people from all around the world to engage in discussions about what the future might look like, what kind of societies might still be around, and what kind of space pirate they’d want to be. The team is planning to make Space Monkeys even more involved in the creative process as development continues, and you can sign up for a chance to join the conversation at bgegame.com. Be sure to check out the first Space Monkey Report below.

Continue here to read the full story.

GTA Online: The Doomsday Heist Next Week

Rockstar Games announces The Doomsday Heist is coming next week to Grand Theft Auto Online: Here's the official trailer, and here's word:

A billionaire tech mogul, an idealistic intelligence agent, a socially awkward conspiracy theorist and a neurotic supercomputer have been forced into an unlikely alliance to save San Andreas from total annihilation. As apocalyptic threats mount from enemies unknown, you and your criminal crew are enlisted to un-tangle mysteries and eradicate threats spanning from the bustling streets of downtown Los Santos to the ocean floor and all the way to the inner depths of Mount Chiliad in an epic new online adventure.

The Doomsday Heist is coming to Grand Theft Auto Online on December 12th.

Evening Patches

On Sale

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

SpellForce 3 Released

THQ Nordic announces the release of SpellForce 3, the latest installment in this fantasy RTS/RPG hybrid series. This is a PC exclusive, available for Windows through GOG.com and Steam, while a physical Standard Edition and a limited-edition Collector's Edition are also available, and this page shows the way to ordering those. The Release Trailer comes along with the following announcement:

The critically acclaimed RTS/RPG-series SpellForce returns today with a new installment: SpellForce 3 is available as a PC-exclusive title.

By combining real-time-strategy and role-playing, SpellForce 3 takes the best from both and blends it together in a unique way. Players will create their own hero, and meet others along their epic journey through the 30+ hours of campaign gameplay. They will construct large bases and muster powerful armies, command three different factions, clash together in multiplayer matches or join forces in the co-operative campaign.

The story of SpellForce 3 takes place before the events of its predecessors, telling the tale of the aftermath of the Mage Wars – an exciting experience for players of the former SpellForce games and players who are new to the franchise alike. In SpellForce 3’s launch trailer, you can see all the features that will #MakeRTSGreatAgain:

Continue here to read the full story.

Dying Light: Bad Blood Battle Royale Expansion

Polish developer Techland announces Bad Blood, a new expansion coming to Dying Light which gets in on the Battle Royale bandwagon with online matches that combine PvP and PvE gameplay (musical interlude). They invite players to participate in a global playtest on Steam, so those interested should sign up here. Here are the relevant details:

As a response to numerous fan requests for a Player-vs-Player approach to Dying Light, and the recent popularity of the battle royale genre among the survival horror fans, today Techland unveiled its new standalone expansion - Dying Light: Bad Blood. While retaining the core of what made people fall in love with Dying Light in the first place, Bad Blood will offer violent and dynamic online matches that blend PvP and PvE styles of gameplay.

“Our aim is both to satisfy players’ demands for competitive PvP gameplay and to explore new directions for Dying Light’s multiplayer experience,” said Tymon Smektala, Producer at Techland. “Since Bad Blood was inspired by fan requests, we want player feedback to be an integral part of our development. That's why we’re inviting Dying Light fans to take part in our Global Playtest. They can play the expansion early and share their thoughts, knowing their feedback will have a major influence on Bad Blood's development.”

Global Playtest is a closed online event that allows selected players to try out Dying Light: Bad Blood before its release. PC players can register for the playtest now.

Stellaris Humanoids Species Pack Released

Paradox Interactive now offers a Humanoids Species Pack for Stellaris, adding new portraits, ship models, and voiceover sets for VIR to the 4X space strategy game, as well as remixed music tracks. The release trailer shows off what to expect, and the announcement fills in more details:

Paradox Interactive, a publisher and developer of games that tell human interest stories, today released a new Species Pack for Stellaris, the sci-fi grand strategy game from Paradox Development Studio. “Humanoids Species Pack,” available today for a suggested retail price of $7.99 on Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs, includes a wealth of new cosmetic content for ambitious galactic rulers. With new species portraits, ship models, music tracks, and voice sets for VIR, The Humanoids Species Pack provides more variety and character to Stellaris’ most-played phenotype, inspired by the classics of Western science fiction.

Follow the ambition of the latest species to explore the stars in a new trailer for Humanoids Species Pack:

Continue here to read the full story.

Dungeons & Dragons Online Mists of Ravenloft Launches

The Dungeons & Dragons Online website announces that update 37 is now live, adding the Mists of Ravenloft expansion to the fantasy MMORPG (thanks Dave). The post includes lengthy release notes for the add-on, and there's even more on the topic to be found on the this page which explains how you can buy this outright for cash money, and this FAQ has details on how content can be purchased for store points, what this means to VIPs, and more. Here's an overview:

The Mists of Ravenloft
Enter the Mists of Ravenloft! The entrance can be found in House Jorasco in Eberron and Eveningstar in the Forgotten Realms. Find out more about our newest expansion at DDO.com/Ravenloft, and click here for our FAQ!

Mists of Ravenloft includes:

  • The Land of Barovia wilderness area
  • Twelve quests
  • Two raids (one raid is currently available, with the second raid arriving soon.)
  • New public areas
  • New Saga
  • Save the people of Barovia, slay Strahd, and restore balance to the land!

Sentient Weapons
Sentient Weapons allow players the opportunity to discover weapons with their own personality and customize their powers! See more information about Sentient Weapons in the News and Notes below, and find Sentient Jewels and more in the Mists of Ravenloft expansion.

Veteran Status Level 10
Veteran Status Level 10 is now available as a limited-duration event. When the event is active, players will be able to create characters and begin their adventure at level 10 with updated gear, a limited-duration level 10 hireling cleric, and more! This event begins mid-day Eastern time on December 7th, and runs through December 17th.

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy

Steam now offers Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, described as "a punishing climbing game" and an "homage to Jazzuo's 2002 B-Game classic 'Sexy Hiking'." The Windows and macOS game is quite simple for something said to be so challenging, but that's not too surprising since Bennet Foddy also designed QWOP, which made the basic act of running a near-impossible task. Here's a trailer and here's an outline:

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy is a punishing climbing game, a homage to Jazzuo's 2002 B-Game classic 'Sexy Hiking'. You move the hammer with the mouse, and that's all there is. With practice, you'll be able to jump, swing, climb and fly. Great mysteries and a wonderful reward await the master hikers who reach the top of the mountain.

To quote Jazzuo himself: "The hiking action is very similar to way you would do it in real life, remember that and you will do well".

  • Climb up an enormous mountain with nothing but a hammer and a pot.
  • Listen as I make philosophical observations about the problem at hand.
  • Between 2 and ∞ hours of agonizing gameplay, depending. The median time to finish for my playtesters was 5 hours, but the mean was closer to ∞.
  • Lose all your progress, over and over.
  • Feel new types of frustration you didn't know you were capable of.
  • Magical reward awaits hikers who reach the top.

Continue here to read the full story.

Dimension Drive Released

Dimension Drive is now available on Steam, offering a vertical bullet hell shooter that challenges players to play two games at once. This game has been in early access for several months after a successful Kickstater following a first crowdfunding attempt that was derailed by a trolling incident. The launch trailer shows off gameplay, and here's word:

Dimension Drive delivers '80s blistering arcade cabinet gameplay reinvented for modern times. Pilots will have to masterfully shift between dual playing fields in frantic fashion. It’s practically like playing two games at once!

Dimension Drive's art style: Video game meets comic. Experience the story of Jack through the motion comics and be amazed at the colour rich in-game comic art style. Who said space had to be black?

  • 2 games on your screen: Multitask and single-handedly fight 2 shoot’em ups side-by-side.
  • Unlock several weapons by finding secret data cubes.
  • 4 difficulty modes: Normal, Hard, Extreme and Insane!
  • Single player and local co-op: Enjoy total cooperative gameplay where both players share everything!
  • Mirror Dimension: Finished the 13 levels of the campaign? Play the Mirror Dimension levels. 13 extra levels in this New Game+ mode.

Continue here to read the full story.

Total War: ARENA Video Diary

A new video Developer Diary #6 for Total War: ARENA assumes the form of a talk show to discuss the upcoming free-to-play multiplayer installment in the Total War series of strategy games. Here's word:

In the latest episode of Total War: ARENA’s Developer Diaries, Luke Kneller gets stuck into how different units mirror their authentic roles in battle and discusses the history of factions with Jan van der Crabben (Lead Metagame Designer) and Joshua Williams (Developer Communications).

With a strong historical blueprint, each player can find a faction and commander that fit their play style, but it’s the uniqueness of the units themselves that allows for incredibly diverse yet specific tactics. Did you know Germanic cavalry were better at scouting than other horseback units, that Falxmen used their specially curved blades to cut through Roman shields, or that a well-thrown shot from a sling had the power of a .44 Magnum?

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Patches

Morning Interviews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I've commented before that I'm not sure December 7th lives in as much infamy as FDR envisioned when he made his December 8th declaration of war in Japan. That may be for the best, as hostilities between the U.S. and Japan seemed to fade pretty quickly after World War II, and that's not something to complain about. But the date will always jump out for me as the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, so it's hard for me to imagine noting anything else about the date here. I think I'll take the occasion as a chance to watch the fine historical drama based on the attack, Tora! Tora! Tora! (with no apologies at all to Michael Bay).

Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Tough Growth.
Sofra.
Link: A city destroyed: 100 years after the Halifax Explosion. Thanks David.
Stories: Pearl Harbor: Hero sailor finally honored for saving 6 men.
Korean, Japanese and German cars edge out Americans in IIHS top safety picks.
Science: This Dinosaur Fossil Was So Bizarre, Scientists Thought It Was Fake.
Breast cancer: Study finds tumor risk increased by use of oral contraceptives.
Media: A Ladder Fire Truck Is Driven Like A Boss!
Traffic flow measured on 30 different 4-way junctions.



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